Gay executives running Britain’s leading companies should come out of the closet to provide “visible senior role-models” to gay colleagues, a campaigner has said.
Young gay business people are reluctant to be honest about their sexuality because there are so few openly homosexual bosses in City boardrooms, according to Todd Sears, a former investment banker turned diversity activist.
He was speaking ahead of a speech by the former BP chief executive Lord Browne in London today on tackling homophobia in business. Lord Browne didn’t come out until towards the end of his City career in 2007.
Mr Sears, who has organised the Out on the Street seminar, said it was a shame that there were no gay CEOs in FTSE 100 companies.
“It is vastly important to have visible senior role-models in business. It makes a huge impact on a company and the next generation of talent. When young people who are gay come into a business and look up and don’t see anyone like them, they are not likely to stick their neck out first,” he said.
Over the weekend, Lord Browne expressed his regret about the poor representation of gay people at the top of UK firms. “There appear to be no ‘out’ gay chief executive officers in the top companies listed on the FTSE,” he said. “This cannot be for want of talent. That leaves two explanations: either LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] candidates are self-selecting away from these positions, or they are not being selected for them.”